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How are these camera guide books produced?

Each of the “Photographer’s Guide” camera guide books published by White Knight Press is written by the same author, Alexander (Alex) White. My first step is to choose a camera. This can be difficult, because there are so many excellent and interesting models being produced, even within the limited category of “advanced compact” cameras that I concentrate on. I try to choose a camera that offers excellent features and image quality and is priced in a moderate range.

Next, I have to obtain the camera. I don’t have any connections with manufacturers or dealers, so I just purchase a camera from a retail site or store. (When I have finished with a book, I keep the camera for a while so I can post updates and respond to questions; eventually, I usually sell the camera on eBay.) I also purchase accessories if they would be useful for the book. I especially look for items such as filter adapters that are unique to that particular model, but I also look for compatible flash units, cases, and other items, depending on what is available for a particular camera.

After checking out the camera and becoming familiar with its operation, I take the it on several photo trips, usually with my wife, who takes along her own camera. I come back with many example photos, some of which will go into the book. At around the same time, I write a draft of the book in Microsoft Word on my Macintosh. Then I go back over the draft and check it for accuracy, testing the camera as I go. I include references in the text all to of the photographs and screen shots that will be needed. Then I produce a listing of all the needed photos and other illustrations. For recent books, the total of these illustrations has been in the range of 350 – 400 images.

After fine-tuning the draft in Word, I move on to creating all of the images to be inserted into the book, using the master list as a guide. This process usually takes several weeks, because different features require different types of illustrations. For example, for one recent book I needed to include sample images using the special settings for sunsets and night scenes. I scheduled a special trip to a rural area where I could catch the setting sun with an interesting landscape as a backdrop, and where I could also get good twilight shots after the sun had set. Other photos may require finding sports activities to be used for demonstations of fast shutter speeds, or activities that demonstrate the use of burst shooting. A lot of time is also needed for creating screen shots that show the menus of the camera and that illustrate the shooting screens in various situations, such as the use of exposure compensation, manual focus, face detection, and other features.

Once I have all 350 or so images created in Photoshop, I assemble the text and photos together using Adobe InDesign layout software. Once the layout is complete, I spend a lot of time going back over the whole book for accuracy and completeness. Then I use the features of InDesign to create the table of contents and index. The last stage consists of a few more rounds of proofreading. Then the InDesign file is used to generate a high-quality PDF file, which I send out to a company that converts the book into e-book formats for iPad and Kindle devices (among others). At about the same time, I send the PDF file to Lightning Source, the print-on-demand company that produces the paperback version of the book and distributes the paperbacks to Amazon and other online retailers. At that point, the book is ready to be announced here at the White Knight Press site.

Who are these camera guide books intended for?

Each “Photographer’s Guide” book published by White Knight Press is intended to be a user-friendly guide to a specific model of digital camera. These books are intended for anyone who finds that the manual that comes with the camera, whether printed or in PDF format, does not provide enough useful or easily readable guidance about how to use the camera. Each book covers all controls, menus, features, and operations of the camera and includes step-by-step instructions on how to use each of those controls or features. In many cases, the books explain why a particular feature exists and why you might want to use it. The books contain numerous illustrations in the form of screen shots of the menus, shooting screens, and playback screens of the cameras, as well as images actually taken by the author using the camera.

The books are probably most useful to people who are new to digital photography or who have an intermediate level of experience with it. The books do not assume a particular level of expertise on the part of the reader, and they include some discussion of basic concepts such as depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. The books also should be of interest to more experienced photographers who would like to have a manual that covers the features of the camera in an easily readable form. One of the most-appreciated features of these books is their complete indexes, which range from about 15 to 20 pages in length and provide an easy way to use the books as reference for how to make settings and use menu options and controls for each camera.

Because these books are complete guides to the cameras they cover, they necessarily discuss the same topics that are included in the manuals that come with the cameras. However, each book contains a considerable amount of information that is not included in the manufacturers’ manuals, such as sample photos, discussions of when and why to use features, how to choose one feature over another similar one, and, in many cases, tips for more efficient use of the model of camera being discussed. Also, the books include discussions of various topics that go beyond the official manuals, such as infrared photography, macro photography, street photography, and others.

If you go to the main information page at this web site for each title, you can download the table of contents, the index, or several sample pages in order to get an idea of whether one of these books may be what you are looking for as a reference guide to the use of your camera.